26 May 2008

Protest in Paris

Protest in Paris

May 17, 2008- Thousands of French filled the streets, carrying placards and banners, singing songs and shouting slogans. This is Paris, May 2008, 40 years after the social revolution known as “May 68” shook France. The uprisings in the 60s saw a series of student protests and general strikes that caused the eventual collapse of the French government.

One could have easily mistaken the protest to be one of those marking the strike in Paris, by thousands of teachers and public sector workers, to protest against job cuts and education reform. But if one listened closely and read the banners, it was clear that this protest was in support of the Palestinian people.

May 2008 also marks 60 years since the Nakba- the Catastrophe- when thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes by the Zionists, who then went on to form the state of Israel. And while Israel celebrates its 60th birthday, many around the world, like the thousands of French protesting in the streets of Paris, are asking, ‘What is there to celebrate about?’ How can anyone celebrate when the Israeli occupation and attacks against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank continue unabated?

The protesters marched in the streets carrying Palestinian flags and posters condemning the Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians, calling for an end to the siege on Gaza, the right of return for Palestinians, and an end to Israeli occupation. This is part of a campaign by Palestinians and social activists in France, demanding the French government pressure Israel to stop its abuses of the Palestinian people and to assist the Palestinians in achieving independence.

Sabrina, a student of law in Paris, says that the government is seen as being too supportive of the Zionist state of Israel. Nadia, who studies political science, went on to explain that it comes down to business- the French state wants good relations with Israel and continues to encourage business and trade. And the French public is not being shown an accurate and balanced view of the situation, they argue. ‘If you only watch the mainstream TV, you will think that it is the Palestinians that don’t want peace and that all Israelis are good!’

Naseem, a Palestinian computer science student from the town of Baqa al-qarbia, was happy to see so many French out on the streets, supporting the cause. He happened to be passing through Paris when he heard of the protest, co-organised by other Palestinian students studying in France. ‘I thought that the world has forgotten us in Palestine!’

Another Palestinian, who had been living in France for the past 10 years, said they will not forget. ‘We want to return to the land of our grandparents- and show people that Jews, Christians and Muslims have lived together on this land for hundreds of years.’

For now, they hope and protest, and the song that has become popular with Palestinians and their supporters, rings through the streets of Paris:
I hail thee, hawk of Lebanon
I welcome thee, Hassan Nasrallah
Here are your men, Hezbollah…

08 May 2008

60 years of Israel

The State of Israel turns 60 today.
Scratch the surface and see what it's built on...



3.On-going ethnic cleansing

4.An Apartheid regime

What's to celebrate?

This message was attached to bikes and we cycled through London for the day. This was a Nakba60 initiative. Visit the website: www.nakba60.org.uk

London will host a huge demonstration for Palestine on Saturday 10 May 2008 @1pm, Temple Tube Station. Loads of banners have been prepared for this!

07 May 2008

Mr Karzai, pass the rice please

Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister Faisal Al-Hajji, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Nasser Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti Prince Nawaf Al-Sabah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Jordanian King Abdullah, Kuwait’s Amir Sabah Al-Sabah, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic, and many more heads of states and government ministers attended the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Kuwait from 29 April to 1 May 2008. The names and titles were almost as long as the convoy of coaches, luxury petrol guzzlers and police escorts from the Kuwait Sheraton to the Bayan Palace.

Kuwait pledged to donate $100 million towards a fund, aimed at providing basic foods to poor people in Islamic countries. "Kuwait ... is offering an initiative to establish a fund for decent life in Islamic countries to provide basic foodstuff for those who are in need quickly," Kuwaits Amir said during the opening of the fourth WIEF.

In Kuwait, the world's seventh-largest oil exporter, inflation hit a record 9.5 percent in January as housing costs jumped 16.1 percent and food prices rose 7.7 percent. Several Arab and Muslim capitals have witnessed protests by people demanding government intervention to ease the impact of rises in the prices of foods.
Hamid Karzai, having just survived an attempt on his life, spoke about the fact that both, some of the richest and poorest countries in the world, had Muslim majority populations. ‘Islam encourages trade and innovation,’ he said, and called upon Muslims to societies to concentrate on scientific education to aid development and growth.

He also touched on the negative perception of Muslims in the world- ‘Our area is engulfed in many disputes and we have enemies that use the situation to destroy the Muslim nation. The extremists are keeping girls from education and there are 60,000 in Afghanistan who left school,’ Karzai complained. ‘A Ummah (nation) of 1.4 billion, with 40 million youth of working age- yet we still face the most difficult problems of the world- ignorance, unemployment, shortage of food, lack of development…’

In a brilliant oratory exercise, King Abdullah of Jordan wooed the crowd with his powerful words. ‘This is no ordinary international meeting!’ he bellowed to the crowd. ‘What you achieve here, and the efforts you carry forward, will have an impact- not only in the Islamic world, but the entire world will enjoy the economic benefits,’ he said. ‘Whether Muslims, not only in Islamic countries, but everywhere in the world will have access to the economic promise of the 21st century. Whether our community can achieve its rightful place in the global economy, not just sharing in prosperity but helping to write the economic rules, giving voice to Islam's values of co-existence, justice, and a better life for all.’‘Our combined resources and geo-economic position make the Islamic world key to every major economic issue of our time, from creating a green global economy, to energy sustainability and more,’ King Abdullah said. ‘The world Muslim population is almost one-fifth of humanity and predominantly young, giving us a significant force for productivity and market growth. With one-quarter of the world's landmass, the Islamic countries are channels to every corner of the global marketplace. We stand on a long Islamic history of enterprise and learning - and we are empowered by the unity, values, and the purpose of Islam,’ said Abdullah.

‘Nothing is more important than our people. Among our countries we have one of the largest youth groups in the world. They are full of ideas, energy and vitality.’ Yet, he added, there is a perennial shortage of skilled manpower. Of those students that study abroad, half do not come home. Not only are we are losing their expertise, which is key to the future of business, science, education and other priorities, but we are also losing their local knowledge - a mine of cultural and national understanding, needed to shape developments to the needs of our people and ensure success.
Abdullah said, ‘We need to break this cycle. Many of our countries have taken bold steps to advance the private sector, trade-led growth, and the jobs and development it creates. But to meet our goals - to truly help our people realize their aspirations - we must also do more to unleash the potential of our creative class. Above all, this means restoring the tradition of innovation in the Muslim world. Our governments, companies, and development leaders must support innovation, with the same deliberate approach that we apply to building infrastructure or attracting investment.’

President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Haris Silajdzic said that Bosnia can be used as prime example on coexistence between people. He said forgiveness is key to living in peace, and pluralism and acceptance of the other, are ways to development and prosperity. He said, ‘We are living in a global village which calls for mutual respect. In Bosnia we are living a model of pluralism. It was the reason for a war that was imposed on us. Models such as this must be preserved...pluralism and forgiveness’.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said that Africa is facing a crisis due to increases in food prices. He said ‘Problems are keeping us from achieving our goals’, adding that ‘countries must pay close attention to agriculture as we were surprised by the high prices.’ He said that poverty must be eradicated to ensure development. Wade said oil has been discovered in Senegal and will soon be used, and investment funds should contribute to the proposed fund against poverty.

03 May 2008

60 years of Israel in Palestine

Israel: 60 years of oppression

60 years of violence, ethnic cleansing, and dispossession.

60 years ago, over 530 Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed. Half of the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed by Zionist militia even before Israel was unilaterally declared a state. Palestinians call these events of the late 1940s the ‘Nakba’ (Catastrophe).

Palestinian refugees are the largest remaining refugee population in the world, with seven million refugees or displaced people. They are prevented from returning to their homes and lands even though International law and UN resolutions demand it.

The Israeli Knesset adopted a set of laws that are contrary to International law that ensured no refugees are allowed to return and that their land is confiscated for use by Jews only. The removal of 75-80% of non-Jews from what became Israel by 1950 was a necessary but not sufficient condition for creating and maintaining a Zionist-defined Jewish state. What the nascent state did subsequently was expand its borders and continue to appropriate native Palestinian lands, expel many of them and discriminate against those who remained at all odds.

Israel has no constitution but promulgated a set of basic laws that govern it essentially for the benefit of the Jewish people. These laws recognize members of a particular religion (including converts) as nationals of the state regardless of where they live or their current citizenship. In Israeli law, all Jews are part of Am Yisrael (the people of Israel). To get papers of citizenship all they have to do is show up in the state and claim their automatic citizenship.

Israel is unique among the nations in not being a country of its citizens but of Jewish people everywhere. No other country defines itself as a country for members of a particular religion (including converts) regardless of where they live. No other country has supranational entities that have authority superseding state authority and native rights. For example, the Jewish National Fund is not a state agency but it has on its own website the amazing statement that ‘The Jewish National Fund is the custodian of the land of Israel on behalf of its owners, Jewish people everywhere’. 91% of the land (most taken from the 530 Palestinian towns and villages depopulated between 1947-1949) is not privately owned but turned over from the custodian of absentee property to the JNF for lease by Jews.

Israeli law considers one fourth of the remaining Palestinians (300,000 of the 1.3 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship) as present absentees. This means that their land and/or homes were confiscated from them and turned to the Jewish Agency/JNF. By international law they are considered internally displaced people (refugees).

Israel maintains an illegal occupation and colonization of the West Bank and Gaza for 40 years. This includes: 133 illegal Israeli settlements, 562 military checkpoints, 610 flying checkpoints, Israeli-only roads and settlements built on Palestinian lands, denial of residency rights, 11,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and, just in the past 7 years alone, 35,000 more Palestinians were made homeless by home demolitions and land confiscations. The Gaza Strip was turned into a large concentration camp were 1.5 million Palestinians (most refugees) are held in a desert strip with what the UN Human Rights commissioner declared as catastrophic conditions.

Israel is funded to the tune of $5 billion (3 billion in direct aid, 2 billion other) from US taxes and shielded from International law and basic human rights conventions by the US government (37 vetoes at the UN security Council).

Israel is an Apartheid state

Israeli Artists declaration of 2002:
"If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic, and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form"

Zionism is not Judaism

Albert Einstein
"My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain - especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish state."

Zionism is Nazism

Ehud Olmert, 5 December 2003
"The formula for the parameters of unilateral solution are: To maximize the number of Jews; minimize the number of Palestinians; not to withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem.

A Palestinian Holocaust

Yitzhak Rabin, 23 October 1979
"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, ‘what is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!'"

From oppressed, to oppressor

Israeli psychologist Avigail Abarbanel
"If a day comes, and I hope it does, when Israelis decide to stop living in denial, they will have to realise that real peace will only come through justice. Justice in this context means one thing- that the ideal of an exclusively Jewish state at the cost of an entire people might have to be abandoned. Only a bi-national state and a right of return for the Palestinian refugees will come close enough to rectifying some of the injustices committed in 1948 and since. Having been ethnically cleansed, this is also what the Palestinians are entitled to under international law and common human decency."